Archives for May 2018

Galaxy S10 Leak Reveals Samsung's Radical Breakthrough

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

While the upcoming Galaxy Note9 phablet is not expected to be anything more than an iterative update on the existing hardware, the real leap forward according to all reports is going to come with the Galaxy S10. The latest reports out of South Korea suggest one of the advanced technologies is now finally ready for widespread consumer adoption.

That technology is the oft-discussed under-the-screen fingerprint reader. While a number of small-run handsets have demonstrated this biometric ability, Samsung has been seen to shy away from putting it in its handsets which have much larger production runs and demand far higher yield rates at scale. As SamMobile reports, the go/no-go point has been reached, and all the indications are that the South Korean company has decided to make the call:

The impression we get from recent reports is that the company has made a final decision on the matter.

The latest report claims that Samsung has “confirmed” to its industry partners that it has decided to adopt the in-display fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy S10. The display panel will be supplied by Samsung Display whereas Qualcomm is said to be supplying the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

Samsung president of mobile communications business DJ Koh presents the new Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone during the Samsung Galaxy S9 Unpacked event (Photo:Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

The inclusion of the technology in the tenth major Galaxy S handset would be a strong statement of intent that the Galaxy brand is still one that can have an impact in the smartphone world. The Galaxy S9 (and arguably the S8 family before it) have been iterative builds, improving the specifications and techniques used in previous flagships without breaking any genuine new ground.

While Chinese manufacturer Vivo might scoff, Samsung would be seen as the first to bring this to the mainstream. And there;s every chance that the launch of the Galaxy S10 will be one of the big smartphone firsts of 2019 if  Samsung brings the reveal forwards to CES in January. The early display of the S10 would see the company anointed as one of change, and leave Mobile World Congress open for the foldable Galaxy X to confirm that role.

Now read more about Samsung’s accelerated launch schedule for the Note9, S10, and Galaxy X…

Study: Eating Meals Earlier In The Day Can Cut Diabetes Risk And Lower Blood Pressure

Shutterstock

In our ongoing dieting dialogue we spend a lot of time talking about what to eat, but what if we’re leaving out something just as important? What if changing when we eat could significantly improve our health? For the first time, a study offers hard data supporting precisely that argument, showing that eating earlier in the day could affect our health as much as what we’re eating.

Animal studies have found that time-restricted diets can reduce diabetes risk by stabilizing blood sugar. To see if the same holds true for humans, a research team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) recruited a group of overweight men, all nearly diabetic, to participate in a controlled 10-week study. Half of the group ate three meals a day within a six-hour period starting around 6:30 am and ending by 3 pm (in effect, they fasted for 18 hours a day). The other half ate three meals during a typical 12-hour day. The groups swapped eating regimens at the end of the first five weeks.

By the end of the study, it was clear that eating within a six-hour window versus a 12-hour window produced three big benefits. First, the participants’ insulin sensitivity increased, resulting in better blood sugar control (insulin is the hormone that keeps blood sugar in check; reduced sensitivity to insulin is a hallmark of prediabetes and diabetes). Their blood pressure also improved as much as if they’d been taking an average dose of blood pressure medication. And their appetite was reduced (a paradoxical outcome considering how many hours a day they weren’t eating, but predictable because their blood sugar had leveled out).

The researchers think that the results come from aligning eating times with natural circadian rhythms.

“If you eat late at night, it’s bad for your metabolism,” said lead study author Courtney Petersen, assistant professor in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences. “Our bodies are optimized to do certain things at certain times of the day, and eating in sync with our circadian rhythms seem to improve our health in multiple ways.”

Importantly, the benefits didn’t come from weight loss, because all of the participants ate enough calories to maintain their bodyweight. Rather, the results seemed to come directly from changing when they consumed the same amount of calories.

“Our body’s ability to keep our blood sugar under control is better in the morning than it is in the afternoon and evening,” added Petersen, “so it makes sense to eat most of our food in the morning and early afternoon.”

This was a small study of just eight participants and far from the last word on this topic, but as an initial proof-of-concept, the results are important. As diabetes continues to explode across an increasingly obese population, strategies like shifting eating times to stabilize blood sugar could make a big difference. Same for blood pressure – reducing the amount of medication patients take by changing when they eat is an approach that makes sense.

Having said that, time-restricted diets aren’t easy to follow. Compressing every meal between 6:30 am and 3 pm takes commitment and more than a little willingness to endure stomach grumbles, at least initially before blood sugar spikes level out. We’re accustomed to eating dinner in the 5 – 7 pm window, often followed by a snack or two later at night. Changing that mindset takes work.

Further complicating matters is the growing popularity of fasting diets, mostly unsupported by evidence-based science, but fueled, as all diet fads are, by public demand to conquer our bodies’ worst tendencies. The latest study uses a fasting method (since the participants didn’t eat for 18 hours instead of a typical 10 or 12), but the focus wasn’t on restricting calories via fasting, but rather shifting when they’re eaten.

More research with more participants is needed, no doubt, but these preliminary findings are worth some attention. Food choices matter, but when we consume the food we choose may matter just as much.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

You can find David DiSalvo on Twitter, FacebookGoogle Plus, and at his website, daviddisalvo.org.

The Amazing Ways Samsung Is Using Big Data, Artificial Intelligence And Robots To Drive Performance

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Until recently, Korean company Samsung was said to behind its competitors in terms of researching and developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, but the company’s recent strategy suggests that it’s committed to closing the gap and even competing for the top spot. Since 70 percent of the world’s data is produced and stored on Samsung’s products, the company is the leading provider of data storage products in the world. By revenue, Samsung is the largest consumer electronics company in the world—yes, it has even overtaken Apple and sells 500 million connected devices a year. From industry events to setting goals with AI at the forefront to updating products to use artificial intelligence, Samsung seems to have gone full throttle in preparing for the 4th industrial revolution.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

Bringing innovators together

Samsung started 2018 with intention to be an artificial intelligence leader by organizing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit and brought together 300 university students, technical experts and leading academics to explore ways to accelerate AI research and to develop the best commercial applications of AI.

Samsung has Dr. Larry Heck, world-renowned AI and voice recognition leader, on their AI research team. At the summit, Dr. Heck emphasized the need for collaboration within the AI industry so that there would be a higher level of confidence and adoption by consumers and to allow AI to flourish. Samsung announced plans to host more AI-related events as well as the creation of a new AI Research Center dedicated to AI research and development. The research center will bolster Samsung’s expertise in artificial intelligence.

Bixby: Samsung’s AI Assistant

Bixby, Samsung’s artificial intelligence system designed to make device interaction easier, debuted with the Samsung Galaxy S8. The latest version, 2.0, is a “fundamental leap forward for digital assistants.” Bixby 2.0 allows the AI system to be available on all devices including TVs, refrigerators, washers, smartphones and other connected devices. It’s also open to developers so that it will be more likely to integrate with other products and services.

Bixby is contextually aware and understands natural language to help users interact with increasingly complex devices. Samsung plans to introduce a Bixby speaker to compete with Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

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Philip Morris: Investors Are Ignoring This

Philip Morris International (PM) stock continues to meander. It is our opinion that at $80 a share with a safe and growing dividend the stock is a buy. We believe the fears associated with smoking declines and challenges to get consumers to adopt new nicotine consumption technologies are more than overblown at this point. Let us discuss.

Recent price action

There is no doubt that the stock continues to face immense pressure following its recently reported earnings:

Source: BAD BEAT Investing

We were of the opinion that when the stock hit the $85-86 level, we would see a bounce back into the $90 level. We were wrong on this initial call, but also said that this name was offering compelling value at that level for a longer-term hold. With shares having fallen even further from this level, shares are now not only offering value in our opinion, but look attractive from an income standpoint. Let us discuss first why the Street is pressuring the name, and second discuss the dividend.

From both a trade and an investment standpoint, we have the stock now under $86, and at 18 times earnings, a level not seen in quite some time. Considering our projections for 2018 earnings are $5.20, the stock is at 16 times forward earnings. This is attractive and a level not seen in many months for this stock.

This is in fact exactly what we look for in the BAD BEAT Investing philosophy, a name punished by a relatively strong quarter, driving the yield higher and giving investors prices not seen in two years. We believe that this quarter was very strong as it beat earnings estimates, and revenues were up 14% year over year. In addition, the continued success of its market shift into heated products continues. Let us discuss.

Two charts spooking the Street

Many investors consider PM to be operating in a dying business. There is some truth to this, but we would argue that the market is shifting, and PM has faced pressure to adapt. That said, there is no question that cigarette shipments are down substantially in recent years. Take a look at the last four first quarters:

Source: SEC Filings, graphics by BAD BEAT Investing

The trend here is quite clear. Philip Morris is seeing substantial declines in traditional cigarette volumes. It is inarguable and is a result of public health intervention and high taxation placed upon the products by governments, including many excise taxes in major nations that are hitting shipping volumes. These issues are undoubtedly driving greater-than-expected declines in cigarette industry volume, especially in the highly profitable premium segment. In many cases, premium cigarettes are unaffordable. Philip Morris continues its efforts to market effectively and control expenses, while focusing on innovating to ensure the future is profitable.

Philip Morris has made significant investments to drive innovation in the market, and much of the future growth of the company depends on this innovation. Bullishness in the stock a year or two ago was driven by the advent of heated tobacco products. The near exponential growth in these products helped to offset cigarette shipment declines and helped boost revenues versus recent years. The growth was impressive, but we have to tell you the last bar on the following chart is a primary reason in our opinion that the stock sold off tremendously and is struggling to rebound:

Source: SEC filings, graphics by BAD BEAT Investing

Note the near exponential growth through Q4 2017. The hammer fell last quarter and shipment volumes were down tremendously. Why? Well, some of the decline was expected as in 2017 the company was having trouble supplying the products globally, including needing to air freight tons of HeatSticks into Japan. By the end of the year, capacity could meet demand, but the shipment numbers were a bit inflated as shown in the last part of the chart above. That said, even after rationing out its products from factories in Europe, the global demand did slow in Q1. That has investors rushing for the exits. We believe it is premature. The implosion in shares stemming from these two charts ignores revenue and earnings strength overall, and completely ignores the now high dividend yield (and growing dividend payments) that the company and stock provide.

What the Street is ignoring

The jump in revenues stemming from the growth in heated tobacco product shipments in recent quarters has more than offset losses from reduced cigarette sales. Reduced risk products accounted for $1.1 billion, or 16% of revenues in Q1, and we project that an increased proportion of revenues will stem from heated tobacco products. While revenues were facing pressure over the last few years, PM’s Q1 revenues have begun to reverse higher, and this is something that we believe is being largely ignored. Overall, sales are moving higher as shown in the most recent four Q1s:

Source: SEC Filings, graphics by BAD BEAT Investing

There remains a bountiful market in third-world countries for traditional cigarettes, even if it is a dying segment as we showed above. In countries with strong public health infrastructure, the introduction of new products, as well as pricing power has driven revenues higher, even if shipments were down in Q1.

What the Street is largely ignoring is that the company took in revenues that were up 14% year over year to $6.89 billion. This is such a positive result, because in recent quarters, the company has seen trouble on the revenue side, registering either flat or down sales in many cases. We see a rise of 14% in sales as incredibly strong. This revenue pattern reversal was a welcomed trend and stems from the increase in sales of the new heated tobacco products.

What we also find somewhat intriguing is that combined with growing revenues we also have stable earnings in the last few Q1s:

Source: SEC Filings, graphics by BAD BEAT Investing

Primary reason that earnings per share did not rise along with the revenue jump is that cost of sales jumped 20% to $2.65 billion, up from $2.17 billion last year. In addition, marketing and research costs rose 26% to $1.83 billion. The primary reason for these increases stems from a shifting market focused on heated products and less combustible products. Although expenses have crept up weighing on margins a bit, we think the stabilization of earnings as the company is in the midst of huge market shift product-wise is a positive. Factoring in expenses, the company saw earnings of $1.00, down $0.02 from last year. These bottom-line results actually beat estimates by $0.10, and that is being largely ignored by the Street since share prices are just above $80 at the time of this writing. This has led to the stock offering a tremendous yield, and despite us arguing for value back at $85, the name now offers real income.

There is no doubt that Philip Morris is a dividend champion. With shares at $80 right now, you can pick up a 5.3% yield right now in shares. This is higher than we have seen in years in the name. With the dividend being paid at $1.07 per share, and likely to be raised again this year to $1.09-1.10, value dividend growth hunters should have Philip Morris on their list. Just look at the dividend growth in recent years:

Source: Data from Street Insider, graphics by BAD BEAT Investing

The dividend continues to be increased, and at a 5.3% yield, investors are getting the best dividend yield they have seen in a decade at present levels. We don’t think investors should have any concern about the company’s dividend. Cash flows are still more than $7 billion while dividends paid are $6 billion. There is something else many investors are ignoring. This was the first quarter in years where currency had a favorable impact on earnings and cash flows. What is more, during the conference call one comment stood out:

If currency continues favorable or gets more favorable and stays that way and we continue to see the success in the business that we’re having at some point we’re going to have to sit down with the board and decide what’s the best way to reward shareholders whether that be dividend increases or whether it be stock buybacks.”

To be clear, we expect another dividend increase this year, but if the company could afford it, a buyback would boost shareholder value by increasing earnings per share and reduce the total amounts paid in dividends. However, the company is currently working on servicing debt levels and bringing leverage down, so this seems unlikely, but would be welcomed. Overall, we see the dividend as secure.

Take-home

Investors are selling thanks to the declines in cigarette volumes, the surprise drop in heated tobacco unit shipments, and compressed margins. We believe it is more than overdone and investors should take note that overall revenues are up while earnings have stabilized. Dividend growth investors should note we have a dividend that continues to grow and is adequately covered by cash flows. The dividend is secure. While we saw value in the name at $85, we see a decade high-yield as extremely compelling in this value stock.

Quad 7 Capital has been a leading contributor with Seeking Alpha since early 2012. If you like the material and want to see more, scroll to the top of the article and hit “Follow.” Quad 7 Capital also writes a lot of “breaking” articles, which are time-sensitive, actionable investing ideas. If you would like to be among the first to be updated, be sure to check the box for “Get email alerts” under “Follow.”

Disclosure: I am/we are long PM.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Is It Too Late To Buy Microsoft?

Microsoft’s (MSFT) stock is on fire lately, gaining over 40% in the past year on the back of better-than-expected financial performance. However, past performance does not guarantee future returns. With the stock trading near all-time highs, it makes sense for investors to wonder if Microsoft still offers attractive upside potential from current prices or if the best is already in the past.

In order to try to answer this question, the following paragraphs will be looking at Microsoft’s stock based on quantitative factors. Statistical research has proven that variables such as financial quality, valuation, momentum, and relative strength can be powerful return drivers for stocks over the long term. Let’s find out what the numbers are saying about Microsoft’s stock and its potential returns on a forward-looking basis.

A High Quality Business

Over the past several years, Microsoft has been making big bets on cloud services, and these efforts are producing tangible results. The company is reporting record financial performance on the back of impressive numbers from Azure, Office 365, and LinkedIn.

Total revenue during the quarter ended in March of 2018 amounted to $26.8 billion, growing by 16% year over year. Revenue is outgrowing expenses, so profit margins are moving in the right direction, and earnings are growing at a faster rate than sales. Operating income was $8.3 billion during the quarter, increasing 23%. Diluted earnings per share amounted to $0.95, growing by 36% and surpassing Wall Street expectations by $0.10 per share.

Source: Microsoft

Looking at the company’s main growth engines, Microsoft is doing quite well in the most important segments:

  • Office commercial revenue grew 14% last quarter, while Office 365 commercial revenue grew 42% and Office 365 commercial seats grew 28%. Office consumer revenue increased 12%.
  • The Dynamics business showed accelerating growth, with revenue expanding 17%, driven by Dynamics 365 growth of 65%.
  • LinkedIn revenue grew 37%, with more than $1.3 billion in revenue.
  • Server products and cloud services revenue grew 20% to $6.3 billion, driven by continued strong Azure revenue growth of 93%.

The company returned $6.3 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the quarter, increasing total shareholder return by 37%. Microsoft nearly doubled the year-over-year buyback amount, and the company has roughly $30 billion remaining of its $40 billion share repurchase authorization.

Over the past five years, Microsoft has substantially increased its dividends while also reducing the amount of shares outstanding through buybacks. Considering the company’s financial strength, it makes sense to expect sustained dividends and buybacks from Microsoft in the years ahead.

Chart

MSFT Shares Outstanding data by YCharts

The Price Of Quality

Microsoft’s stock is not cheap at current prices, but valuation is not excessive either for such a high quality business. Based on earnings expectations for next year, the stock is trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 23.8.

This is relatively expensive in comparison to the broad market, but not in comparison to other companies in the industry. As a reference, the average company in the software and services sector is currently trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of 32.9.

In the words of Warren Buffett: “Price is what you pay and value is what you get.” This means that valuation ratios should be interpreted in a broad context, and a business with above-average quality deserves above-average valuation ratios.

If Microsoft can continue delivering low-double-digit revenue growth over the coming years on the back of healthy performance from Azure, Office 354, and LinkedIn, then the company can clearly justify its current valuation levels.

Powerful Momentum

Stock prices don’t just reflect business fundamentals in isolation, but financial performance in comparison to expectations can be an even more important return driver. When a company is delivering better-than-expected earnings and expectations about future earnings are increasing, this generally pushes the stock price in the right direction too.

The chart below shows the average earnings estimate, the actual reported number and the earnings surprise, both in absolute and percentage terms over the past four quarters. Microsoft is clearly doing a sound job at consistently delivering earnings numbers above Wall Street expectations.

The chart compares the stock price versus earnings expectations for the current fiscal and next fiscal year. It’s easy to see how the stock and earnings forecasts are closely correlated.

Chart

MSFT data by YCharts

Vigorous Relative Strength

Winners tend to keep on winning in the stock market. Besides, money has an opportunity cost. When you buy an investment with subpar returns, that money is not available to invested in companies with superior performance. For this reason, we don’t just want to buy stocks that are doing well, we want to buy the names that are performing materially better than others.

Microsoft is comfortably outperforming both the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) and the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) over the past 12 months. Compared to both the market in general and the sector in particular, Microsoft’s stock is displaying outstanding relative strength.

Chart

MSFT data by YCharts

Putting It All Together

The PowerFactors system is a quantitative investing system available to members in my research service, “The Data Driven Investor.” This system basically ranks companies in a particular universe according to the factors analyzed in this article for Microsoft: financial quality, valuation, momentum, and relative strength.

The system has produced solid backtested performance over the long term. The chart below shows how the 50 stocks with the highest PowerFactors ranking in the S&P 500 index performed in comparison to the SPDR S&P 500 ETF since 1999. The backtesting assumes an equal-weighted portfolio, monthly rebalanced, and with an annual expense ratio of 1% to account for trading expenses.

Data from S&P Global via Portfolio123

The system more than doubled the benchmark, with annual returns of 12.92% per year versus an annual return of 6.13% for the market-tracking ETF in the same period. In cumulative terms, the system gained 954% versus 216.61% for the benchmark.

Microsoft is one of the 50 stocks currently picked by the system, which means the company is among the best 10% of those in the S&P 500 based on a combination of quantitative indicators that measure financial quality, valuation, business momentum, and relative strength.

Backtested performance does not guarantee future returns, and this kind of analysts should always be interpreted with caution. That acknowledged, it’s good to know that the numbers are clearly pointing towards further upside potential in Microsoft’s stock.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

These Subtle Psychological Hacks Keep Japan’s Trains Running Smoothly

Japan’s trains, including local commuter systems and longer-distance routes that span most of the country, are frequent objects of admiration for their speed, efficiency, and almost excessive timeliness. The system’s overall effectiveness depends in large part on Japan’s unique geography and some very smart alignment between transportation and real estate planning. But on a day-to-day (or minute-to-minute) basis, some fascinating psychological tricks also help keep things running smoothly.

According to CityLab, Japan’s trains rely heavily on so-called “nudge theory,” or small signals that almost unconsciously influence riders’ behavior, keeping foot traffic moving smoothly through crowded stations. These go well beyond the basics of clear boarding indicators, well-designed maps, and fully audible announcements—which too many U.S. transit systems already have trouble executing.

For example, Japanese train systems use calming melodies to signal departures instead of harsh buzzers, which studies have shown prevent injuries by keeping passengers from rushing. Slightly more Machiavellian is the use of ultrasonic sound, inaudible to older passengers, to disperse crowds of potentially disruptive teenagers.

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The use of subtle nudges also extends to train operators, who are expected to gesture with their hands and state any intended action out loud. That increases mental engagement and decreases operating errors.

Much more serious is the use of calming blue lights on certain parts of platforms, which have been shown to reduce suicide attempts by people jumping in front of trains. Suicide in general is a major social problem in Japan, and suicides by train also cause frequent, serious disruptions to the otherwise smoothly operating system.

Preventing small or large disruptions is crucial to the efficient functioning of mass transit—just ask any New Yorker who has ever boiled with rage when new passengers cram into a subway car without letting exiting riders off first. But for American supporters of mass transit, such refinements may take a back seat to the chronic underinvestment that has left systems including the New York subway and Amtrak an increasingly unsafe and inefficient mess.

I Haven't Eaten for 3 Days and It's Amazing

I love food, but I have eaten nothing and drank only water for the past 72 hours.

Why?

Partly because I kept hearing from friends and the media that they enjoyed fasting. Since swimming across the Hudson River, I’ve shifted my life from analyzing and planning–what decades of school taught me to do–to experimenting.

I’ve found experimenting improved my life more so I keep practicing.

My motivation

The 4 main appeals to me of a 3-day fast were

  • New experiences: A friend told me day 3 of his 3-day fasts made him feel amazing and I wanted to experience it.
  • Delicious: Many sources told me the first meal after a long fast tasted indescribably amazing. I love food and I love delicious, so I wanted to experience what could only come this way.
  • Curiosity: I grew up hearing of one-day fasts were very hard–I thought bordering on impossible. My hunger overwhelmed me skipping one meal.
  • Vanity: I won’t lie. As I’ve become more fit I’ve found I enjoy the definition on my abs.

Non-reasons

Many people claim fasting gives health benefits. I don’t believe any of the health claims from people saying it detoxes, extends life, or similar claims. I don’t disbelieve them. I just don’t find their evidence compelling.

I enjoy watching many videos and reading many posts by people saying they could feel the toxins exiting their bodies and such, but I found this WebMD post, Is Fasting Healthy, most compelling, which said most evidence was inconclusive.

I did find their subjective descriptions of their experiences compelling.

They also made me not afraid of taking a risk with their diversity in age, sex, fitness, and every measure that seemed relevant. Many drank only water for a week or more.

How hard could 3 days be?

One man didn’t eat for over a year, though under medical supervision and he took supplements, just not macronutrients. He started at 456 pounds and my body fat is probably in the low teens, so I have less spare fuel, but I found people with less body fat than me enjoyed their experiences.

The idea seemed mind-blowing

I grew up thinking that 1-day fasts, which people do for religion all the time, were nearly impossible. Hearing that people drank only water for days and weeks seemed impossible.

I’ve learned that believing something is impossible that people do means my belief is wrong. It points to an opportunity for growth.

I get hungry after a few hours. How could I make 72 of them?

A 24-hour test

Hearing random people doing 3 days, I tried one day a few weeks ago. It turned out easy.

I felt shockingly unremarkably normal. Most of the hunger and temptation passed. I was used to hunger subsiding on a few-hour scale. It ebbed and flowed over 24 hours, but no steady rise.

Then I looked for a 3-day period without obligations and before my summer farm share deliveries began on June 5. From then until Thanksgiving, the deliveries flood me with vegetables and fruit too delicious to let go to waste.

It was difficult to find time without food-related activities or other occasions I didn’t want to risk having no energy for. The holiday weekend gave me freedom.

My 72-hour results

It was easy! That it was even possible seemed unbelievable a couple months ago.

I became conscious of many mindless eating patterns.

I became enabled to act against mindless eating habits. I thought I was helpless about many of them. I’m not.

The motivational and emotional skills underlying eating habits underlie many habits. I’m now aware and starting to become experienced in developing and using those emotional skills. I expect I can apply them throughout life.

Hunger passes, though not as much as the videos and posts I read said. Many hours would pass without me noticing I hadn’t eaten in a while.

Since I think about food a lot when I’m eating normally, I’d estimate that I thought about the same or maybe less about food while fasting.

I went outside more. I love eating and my kitchen has delicious food in it, so I decided to go outside more. I got plenty of work done and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I didn’t miss the time I missed in front of a screen.

Not much fat loss. I don’t have a scale or calipers, so I haven’t measured with tools so I’m just gauging by pinching around my belly button and looking in the mirror. My skin feels thinner and my abs show more definition, but not that much difference.

Not much muscle loss. I continued my twice daily burpee-based calisthenics unchanged (3×9 sets of burpees, stretches, and exercises for abs, back, and arms). They make me sweat and out of breath all the time. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue them, but I didn’t have to reduce them at all.

The big results

I experienced that it’s not that big a deal.

Why is it not being a big deal my big result?

My horizons were constrained by inexperience. Experience expanded my horizons and therefore my abilities.

I felt helpless to resist food for even one or two meals before. I could do it, but it felt hard.

I just skipped 9 meals and could go longer. I’m more able than I thought. I found I can sit around food for days and choose not to eat it with zero problems.

The skills and abilities that I applied to fasting I can apply to anything requiring similar skills, which exist everywhere in life, not just food.

It reinforced how life-changing activities are under my nose all the time. I found that trend in getting rid of stuff, swimming across the Hudson, performing on stage, trying open mike stand-up comedy, and so on.

I didn’t have to fly to India, jump out of a plane, or even leave my neighborhood.

It cost me zero in time, money, or other resource. I saved money and gained productivity, actually.

Will I do it again? Probably every now and then. I entered this time full of anxiety, which I expect will decrease in future times.

FBI Says You Should Reboot Your Home Office Router to Stop Russian Malware

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recommended in a Friday statement that “any owner of small office and home office routers” reboot the devices, hopefully reducing their exposure to a widespread malware attack linked to Russian government actors. The FBI has reportedly seized a server used to escalate the infection, making rebooting an effective way to disable it.

A Cisco cybersecurity team said on Wednesday that at least 500,000 routers in 54 countries were impacted by the malware, known as VPN Filter. The software reportedly targets consumer-level routers used in home and small offices, and is able to both monitor local traffic and even wipe the routers, destroying them and cutting users off from the internet. Routers from Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link, and MikroTik were reportedly vulnerable – though again, the FBI is recommending rebooting all small or home office routers.

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According to reporting by The Daily Beast, VPN Filter is a product of a group known by names including “Sofacy Group” and “Fancy Bear.” The same group was allegedly responsible for the hack of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, and has been strongly linked to the Russian government.

According to Ars Technica, the VPN Filter malware is “one of the few Internet-of-things infections that can survive a reboot,” because a persistent first stage of the infection can use automated remote systems to install or re-install its second or third stages.

The FBI’s seizure of one of those remote systems, hosted at the ominously-named domain ToKnowAll.com, means the attackers will likely have to use a much more labor-intensive method to re-infect devices after they’re rebooted. Rebooting will also, according to a Department of Justice statement, help the government teams “identify and remediate the infection worldwide,” apparently by tracking communications sent by infected devices after they’re rebooted.

Can't Complete a Sale? Try Asking These 5 Questions

There is nothing more frustrating than having a hot prospect turn down your offer on a sales call and knowing they just slipped through your fingers. You lose out on acquiring a new customer and they lose out on the amazing product or service that could benefit their life or their business.

As a start-up entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats and one of them is probably being a salesperson. Before I hired my sales team, I conducted thousands of sales calls and I learned five key questions that helped me increase my conversion rates and get the client excited about saying “yes.”

If you aren’t doing the sales calls yourself and have a sales team, these questions can help them convert more customers and increase revenue.

For the most part, prospects are skeptical. They want to make wise decisions with their investments and you need to build trust that you can deliver. Most people enter a sales conversation looking for a reason to refuse. These questions transform the mindset of the customer from why, to why not?

These questions are great for any entrepreneur trying to close a big deal or even just getting started to ask their prospects to inspire the sale.

1. Is this a priority in your life?

This question really gets at the root of a purchasing decision. People only pay for things that are a priority for them. It isn’t about the price or product itself, but more about their willingness to make solving their problem a priority.

When you ask a prospect this question, it forces them to confront his or her own inner conflicts about what they want and what they are willing to do to get results. When the decision requires a significant financial investment, their mind will convince them that it isn’t the right time or that it is too much of a risk. When something is truly a priority, the prospect will find a way to make the investment and timing work if they believe it will help them.

2. If you don’t do this, what will you do?

I’ve heard prospects tell me how frustrated they are and how they want to find a partner, make more money or change careers and live their purpose. When the conversation turned to next steps, suddenly they had many excuses whether it was time or money that kept them from moving forward. By asking them this question, they got in touch with the reason they set up the call in the first place. They wanted the result and the thought of walking away without a plan or guide was scarier than they thought. Without pressure, the question led them to make a decision focused on what they will lose rather what they would win. Fear has a stronger emotional change than hope that motivates them to make the decision that would change their life.

3. Is it that you do not believe in my product/service or believe in yourself?

If you sell a service that involves a customer to have joint responsibility to get the result such as coaching, fitness, financial services, etc., you also have to overcome the client’s self-doubt in implementing the solution properly. This is a more personal question that may not be appropriate in more conservative corporate environments, but in small businesses that deal with mindset and psychology of the user, this question can be crucial to get into the head of the client.

In personal development there are many programs that make big promises and the prospects I speak with are fatigued with programs that don’t deliver. They begin to wonder if they can change at all. Asking the prospect this question helps them realize that the hesitation isn’t about your product or service but about their own insecurities. If you stand in confidence of your product, you can transform their anxiety about taking a risk because they will feel understood and comforted by your certainty.

4. What did you find most helpful about our conversation?

Before you pitch your product or service, ask the prospect to repeat back what was helpful about your advice or suggestions during the consultation sales call. They will literally give you all the reasons for them to say “yes” to your offer. It nearly makes it impossible for them to say refuse your service after they just told you all the ways you already helped them.

This process helps laser the conversation, summarize what was discussed and the prospect is often surprised at the things they learned in just one call that leaves them with a positive association with your product or service.

5. What was missing?

When a prospect clearly declines the offer and is ready to leave the conversation, I found that just being transparent and asking the prospect what was missing (why didn’t I earn the sale), they easily volunteered the remaining objections that kept them from moving forward. Once I understood those objections, I was able to address them. Many times, this has completely turned around the sale because the prospect knew I really cared and valued their input and wanted to make sure she had all the information to make the best decision.

You never want to coerce someone to buy something they don’t need or cannot afford. The key to asking the right questions isn’t about manipulation but about helping a prospect get out of their own way in taking a step that could change their life or their business. If you believe in your product, this should be unconsciously conveyed to them and they will feel it.

7 Business Travel Essentials You Didn't Know You Needed

As someone who makes a living doing travel for business, I have a few items that I would highly recommend for any business trip. Most of these items are small and lightweight, perfect for fitting into a suitcase. After a few mistakes and mishaps over the years, I won’t travel without them.

Whether you’re traveling to give an important presentation or want to ease anxiety by having a backpack plan, these 7 items will leave you prepared.

1. Smart luggage.

There’s a good chance you’ve felt the pain of a low cell phone battery and no place to charge it in an airport. This can be especially stressful if you need your phone to navigate an unfamiliar place. Smart luggage is a nice option in situations such as this.

Most smart luggage cases can register the weight of the bag, plus provide a GPS location (a reassurance if you’ve ever had a lost or delayed bag), remote lock functions, and the ability to power your phone via a luggage battery. However, be aware that a number of airlines now require the battery to be removable — a decision that has put a few smart luggage companies out of business.

2. Microprojector.

This is one of those items that you didn’t know you needed until you one day need it. A microprojector ensures that your work gets seen in the event of an unpredictable circumstance. Some of these devices are smaller than an iPhone yet are still able to deliver on sound and picture quality.

I once had to present an idea to a small group of investors. As my luck had it, a pipe had burst in the room where we were supposed to meet, leaving me with nothing but my laptop to present. Thankfully, one of the staff members had bought a microprojector to watch movies and was able to lend it to me for this occasion.

3. Portable scanner.

This is a necessity if you are attending a major conference with many vendors. Many of these scanners are cordless and can connect to email or apps like Dropbox. Some of these can scan nearly 30 pages in less than a minute. Sizes vary but most can easily fit in the crook of a suitcase and are lightweight.

I’ve gone to travel fairs and used a portable scanner to get information back to my team quickly. It helps us stay organized and I don’t end up with a bunch of pamphlets and papers in my suitcase. I also use it to upload receipts to keep track of my expenses.  

4. Multifunctional pen/stylus/USB drive.

A pen with a stylus makes sense. But the additional flash drive that’s included makes this item one of my staples. This 3-in-1 deal makes my life easier and always becomes a conversation starter. They are surprisingly ergonomic and still allow for beautiful penmanship.

5. Portable router.

A portable router is almost a requirement, depending on how secluded your destination is. These devices offer additional safety when working online by providing a private network. It can also be cheaper than finding WiFi in a remote location or using your phone to tether.

Some of these routers can provide service in over 100+ countries while also charging your devices. I’ve had to use this a couple of times when my internet has been dicey and have never regretted the investment.

6. Virtual keyboard.

I know this one is a little out there but a virtual keyboard is a great way to work if you don’t have access to your computer. If you’ve ever tried to type a lengthy document on a phone or iPad, you know how it can be a struggle to work quickly and correctly. This helpful device is a portable keyboard without the bulk of a physical keyboard.

If using, I recommend projecting the keyboard onto a piece of paper and on a hard surface. This will help you type more efficiently and make it easier to view. Just watch out for cats who might view it as a toy.

7. Collar stay and shirt travel pouch.

A collar stay is exactly what it sounds like – a little metal object that helps the collar stay in place. A shirt travel pouch is another useful item. It’s like a laptop case but for your individual shirt. These items are cheap, effortless, and can keep you looking professional.

I’ve found both of these items to be essentials, especially if I have to head straight to a meeting after arriving at the airport. Collar stays are those life-hack items that everyone should own, as they are sure to come in handy at some point.

While most of these items aren’t necessary, they can definitely make life on the road easier.